November 12th, 2013

how long

Take what you want and just go

The Reconcilers and the Confessors in The UMC have been arguing over homosexuality (inter alia) for forty years. Both sides have made passionate and articulate statements citing Scripture, theology, values, culture, reason, whatnot. They have reached an impasse. Neither side is going to change the other and the possibility that General Conference might change the official position of The Church has reached the point of Extreme Unlikelihood.

Hitherto, both sides have committed themselves to working through the normal processes of the Church. Now the Reconcilers seem committed to simply disobeying the Church and calling it "congregational polity." Which is simply a way of saying, "I get what I want even if I can't persuade enough others to make a legitimate change in church law."

And what's so bad about that, you ask? Well, nothing, if "congregational polity" means that the Reconciling clergy are only appointed to Reconciling congregations and Confessing clergy are only appointed to Confessing congregations, and we devolve all our institutions so that curriculum and General Church causes all reflect this basic division so that neither side has to support the pet causes of the other.

Of course, that's not how it would work. Over time, the mixing and interchange of pastors and laity and volunteers would make us all more or less reflect the more permissive point of view, that of the Reconcilers. The argument for "congregational polity" is just a way to win the argument when you don't have the votes.

I'm tired of this. I've spent my entire career listening to this argument, and it's time we were done with it. I think General Conference should offer a one-time-only chance for clergy and congregations who don't want to live by the rules to take their pensions and property and just go. As Paul said in the context of unbelieving spouses, let them go; God has called us to peace.